The Impact Fund
Until today, silos of excellence – traditional sectors of knowledge and approaches to problem solving – have been the backbone of solution development toward our greatest global challenges. In domains like public health, humanitarian relief, poverty alleviation and human rights, and in disciplines like design research, technology for social change and data science, interactions tend to be internalized within fields. In the process, important tools, perspectives and new approaches to creating change are effectively locked up.
Yet there is growing evidence that the most disruptive and impactful innovations are emerging at the intersections between established disciplines and perspectives. In this setting, talents and perspectives are combined across these boundaries, uncovering remarkable insights and innovations. Unfortunately, such approaches often defy the neat categorizations used by traditional funders, or involve circumstances that are too fast moving or too risky for them to effectively respond.
To address this gap, we have launched the PopTech Impact Fund – a platform for supporting early-stage, unconventional, collaborative and higher-risk/higher-return approaches to global challenges.
The Impact Fund helps high-potential teams of collaborators in the early stages of their work by providing in-kind support, resources and small amounts of risk capital to projects where either success or failure may illuminate new paths to field-wide impact. Instead of operating in months-to-years, our goal is to respond to opportunities in days to weeks by harnessing the power and capacity of our network.
We will also facilitate critical learning around these activities by bringing together the leaders of supported projects with the institutional and philanthropic supporters of the Impact Fund itself. In private gatherings, key insights, learning and opportunities from these projects will be shared, along with the process and means by which these collaborations form. We believe additional opportunities for impact investing will grow from this work, though PopTech will take no equity stake.
In its early iteration, much of the Impact Fund’s work will be focused within the PopTech network itself, although we are open to extraordinary initiatives from beyond the network that meet Fund criteria for urgency, novelty of approach and potential for impact.
As with any undertaking that funds ambitious and unconventional work, our expectation is that some of these projects will fail, in ways that are illuminating. We not only accept this – we endorse it as part of a general view that social change organizations should be more risk-tolerant.
The PopTech Impact Fund will become fully operational in 2013. To receive an update, or to learn how you or your organization can support the Impact Fund, please email firstname.lastname@example.org